BOYDS, Md. -- If Megan Rapinoe wanted to continue her stand in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick before the Seattle Reign’s NWSL game against the Washington Spirit on Wednesday, she wasn’t given the chance.
On Sunday, the midfielder became the first active non-black professional athlete to display support for the 49ers quarterback when she took a knee for the national anthem before the Reign’s game, but on Wednesday night the hosts played “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the teams took the field for the game.
“In light of Seattle Reign and U.S. Women’s National Team member Megan Rapinoe’s public declaration that she intended to ‘take a knee’ during the United States’ National Anthem tonight, we decided to play the anthem in our stadium ahead of schedule rather than subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent,” the team said in a statement.
Rapinoe and members of both teams warmed up for about 25 minutes following a rain delay. They then left the field before the anthem and returned shortly after for the start of the game. League commissioner Jeff Plush was in attendance at the game and said he was surprised when he rushed out to the field to see the anthem and the players weren’t there. He had no knowledge of the Spirit’s plans before the game.
“We have procedures and protocols and so we’ll digest everything,” he said of the league’s next steps. “I’m understanding that it’s a complex issue, so I’m trying to just be very detached from it and think it all through and be as measured as possible.”
Following her protest last week, Rapinoe told ESPN’s Julie Foudy that she was “disgusted” with the way Kaepernick had been treated throughout his protest. “It is overtly racist: 'Stay in your place, black man.' Just didn't feel right to me,” she said. “We need a more substantive conversation around race relations and the way people of color are treated."
“And quite honestly,” the World Cup and Olympic medalist added to Foudy, “being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven't had my liberties protected, so I can absolutely sympathize with that feeling.”
Rapinoe told Sports Illustrated that if she is selected to play in the U.S. Women’s National Team game next week, she will continue the protest.